We bring you the most stimulating and exciting stories from the world of wellness research.
PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a snapshot of Ten Innovative Ideas each week that are reshaping the health care industry. Continue reading below for the most exciting ideas from the past seven days.
Kiip, a mobile application that offers real-world rewards for in-game achievements, has moved beyond gaming platforms with a new push to encompass the growing marketplace of fitness apps as well. In a move intended to help make achievements in non-gaming applications more meaningful, the updated application will reward users when they have achieved a “moment” within fitness applications. For example, if users log their run for the day in MapMyRun, they could get a reward from PepsiCo’s Propel Zero brand. The idea is to incentivize users through relevant brand-led rewards, creating more meaningful relationships between brands and consumers.
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed electric skin patches that can wirelessly diagnose health problems and deliver treatments. Developed to be a comfortable and functional system despite their small dimensions (about the width of a human hair), the patches can contain full-scale electronic circuits needed to monitor health status along with wireless capabilities that can be used to transmit data to the patient’s cell phone or the doctor’s office. The patches have the potential to eliminate the need for patients to stay attached to large machines in a doctor’s office or hospital room for hours of treatment or monitoring.
The US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced plans to create nanosensors that monitor soldiers’ health on the battlefield and keep doctors constantly updated about potential health problems. With a majority of military medical evacuations occurring due to illness or disease as opposed to injuries, the innovation is intended to decrease the amount of preventable illnesses, and keep military personnel operating at their peak health.
Symcat is a online application that helps users diagnose symptoms by walking them through what a medical professional might ask in a routine background check. Individuals begin by selecting their symptoms and how long they’ve been experiencing them. The app then asks the user pertinent diagnostic questions like their age and gender, along with their family history of disease. Symcat then uses clinical data provided by aggregate patient health records to predict what could be wrong and give the user further advice.
Autom is a robotic personal weight-loss coach that keeps track of how much users eat, along with their exercise habits, and personal fitness goals. The freestanding robot, includes a tablet-like interface that enables users to easily record their progress, periodically offering words of motivation and advice in a Siri-like voice. The robot also possesses a handful of human-like traits to help it maintain a personal touch. For example, Autom is sensitive to each individual’s needs and habits, and adjusts its daily messages accordingly, and its expressive eyes will also occasionally wink. According to creator Cory Kidd, the $199 robot was developed based on studies which showed that people remain engaged longer with the robot and find the information presented more informative and credible than similar interactions with a screen-based character.
Croatian company Ivor Medical has created an iPad application that teaches people the intricacies of using an automated external defibrillator (AED) so that they will be able to use one effectively in a real life emergency. Mimicking all the features and prompts of existing AEDs, the AED Trainer app offers a cost-saving alternative for educating laypersons and healthcare providers in the effective use of an AED. In addition, the app allows configuration with a scenario builder that provides students with valuable and realistic training situations. As more people become proficient users of AEDs, people suffering from cardiac arrest will receive improved and proper care with reduced liability.
Scientists at the Compact Particle Acceleration Corporation in Livermore, California, are developing a 13-foot-long particle accelerator that costs roughly $30 million, a stark departure from current units that need to be housed in airplane hangar-sized buildings and cost more than $100 million to build. These requirements have limited the number of cancer patients who could be treated with proton-beam therapy, a more precise procedure for treating tumors that causes less harm to healthy surrounding tissues. CPAC’s prototype creates the electromagnetic field with electric lines, which don’t require massive shielding or large additional equipment and the units could be commercially available by 2015.
Berlin-based Design Research Lab has developed the Mobile Lorm Glove, which enables wearers to send and receive text messages via tactile feedback. The glove uses tactile pressure sensors located at various points on the palm of the glove that correspond to the Lorm alphabet, a manual system used by the hearing and vision impaired to construct words and sentences. In addition to letting the hearing and vision impaired communicate more freely via mobile text messages and email, the developers also claim that the device will make it easier to read e-books.
An international team of scientists has created a handheld, battery powered device that has been shown to effectively rid skin of bacteria by blasting it with plasma. If approved for medical use, the device could dramatically improve the level of care that paramedics and military doctors could deliver in the field. The self-contained device is powered by a 12-volt battery and doesn’t require any external gas feed or handling system. The plasma it generates is between 20-23°C (68-73.4°F), so it won’t damage the skin. The creators have stated that each unit can be manufactured for less than $100 US.
Scientists at Cambridge University have turned to LEGO Mindstorms robotics kits to help them with the labor intensive process of making synthetic bone. The kits, which come with motors, sensors and microprocessors, along with structural pieces, were used to assemble a moveable crane that could automate the repeated sample-dipping process necessary to create the artificial bone. With their time freed up, the scientists can now spend more time on their research, which aims to produce a synthetic material that has a low-energy cost and a high similarity to human bone tissue.
PSFK has partnered with Boehringer Ingelheim to bring you a steady stream of inspiring news and ideas in the health and wellness space. Once each week, we will be posting an article on PSFK.com. If you would like to gain access to the full stream of content, please check out Boehringer Ingelheim’s Facebook page, where they are publishing a regular stream of inspiring and informative content.